socialisation

The secret to getting noticed for all the right reasons for executive women

sml The secret to self promotion for executive women with Amanda Blesing Executive Coach.png
I was not rescued by a Prince. I was the adminstrator of my own rescue
— Elizabeth Gilbert

A funny thing happened to me on a webinar the other day.  I was in the middle of introducing the Gold Standard of Executive Branded - proactive, intentional, future focused and strategic when someone asked me a question "Isn't it disingenuous to do this? Surely if we're doing great work people will notice us?" 

My heart stopped.  It was such a great question.

I then took a deep breath and thought deeply before I responded, because I knew exactly where she was coming from.

Let me explain.

My new book From Invisible to Invincible - a self-promotion handbook for executive women (advance orders available here) was originally going to be called Noticed: For all the right reasons. 

Oh, how I loved that title. It was punchy. It was going to have a sealed section with all the wrong reasons (and no, not those sort of wrong reasons). This book was about being noticed by the right audience, at the right time, in the right place with the right key messages in the right currency.

But when I reflected on the issues that many women face: a lack of agency or a tendency to rely more on waiting to be noticed than creating the notice, I simply could not go to print with that title. It would convey the wrong message and keep us stuck once again playing small.

THE SECRET

The secret to creating a career that really counts is that success comes soonest to those who create it themselves - deliberately, proactively, strategically and in a future focused manner.  Not to those who wait around for it to happen to them or for someone to hand it to them.

The socialisation of young women and girls is comes from fairy stories and romance novels where the female protagonist waits to be rescued. Even if we didn't consciously buy into that narrative, it was all around us - television, advertising, magazine articles, our mothers, grans, aunties, female cousins, babysitters or childcare workers who reared us with those same stereotypes in mind. 

After all -

  • Men sweat, while women glow

  • Men go on quests and adventures, while women are required to stay at home waiting and keeping the hearth fires warm

Our history is flooded with images of women sitting passively and looking amazing, without a hair out of place as though as though we didn't break a sweat, Mona Lisa style, while imagery of men is all guts and glory, of men riding, lifting, heaving, throwing, running, creating and leading.

This creates a tendency towards a lack of agency for women. We subconsciously end up imagining that someone needs to tap us on the shoulder, for us to wait to be invited, for it to be worthwhile; that being discovered like Australia’s Top Model is the holy grail (thank you NOT Dolly Magazine of the 70's and 80s'); and this somehow perpetuates a mixed up mess of, if you actually create your own success then it isn't as valid.

Logically this doesn’t even make sense, but it’s so ingrained in the thinking of yesteryear that it’s hard to decode or dismiss even now.

In 2015, I was attending an International Women’s Day function and was seated at a table with a mature-aged (75+) business woman renowned in the dispute resolution sector. She had just published her first, much awaited, book. When I asked her why she waited so long to write the book, she replied ‘No-one had invited me to write one before, so I didn’t think it would be the right thing to do’

This exemplifies much of what many of us still hold to be true. We're still waiting to be invited because we think it's the right thing to do. 

But the new rules for women are - if you don't have a seat at the table, BYO chair. 

This takes focus, striving, strategy, influencing others and right effort.

So to answer the question? No this is not disingenuous. We women simply got the wrong memo. This is the secret ingredient that we've only recently stumbled upon. The men and women winning all the glory are quite simply, creating it for themselves.

Instead, we need to stop waiting and get on with the business of being great then create a world we want to inhabit.

As television producer Shonda Rhimes famously said ... 'I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don't call me lucky. Call me a badass'.

YOUR THOUGHTS?  Have you had your badass moment yet?  Or deep down, are you still waiting?  Drop me a note and let me know.

#Icreatesheroes #womenofimpact #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

 

Share if you dare, to inspire another woman somewhere!

LIKED THIS? READ MORE >>

 
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Three Smart Ways to Create Your Own Reality that Aren't "Woo Woo"

"Create your own new reality."

I hate the phrase. It jars, it sounds a little woo woo and  ........... (here's the kicker) -  you not only can, but probably should.

But for those of us who have been raised on a steady diet of waiting -

creating  your own new reality might be something that you believe is suitable for entrepreneurial types, extroverts and other people.  So  perhaps the following examples will show you that it's also right for you.

Women, socialisation and why it might hold us back

Creating your own reality -  takes energy and time and a propensity for thinking out side the square. It requires people to regularly not do things the way they've always been done. It requires a tendency to bend the rules, deal with uncertainty and cross over blurred lines. As women though, we've got a bunch of socialisation that sometimes gets in the way of thinking this way. 

“Both men and women suffer from it in different ways, but it does affect both sexes .......... With women they are more likely to be afraid of success – as well as failure – because they sense there will be a price to pay in other parts of their life. ...........  With men it is more ‘fake it, until you make it’. They think the syndrome is part and parcel of work life and they tend to push through it.” According to behavioural change consultant Suzanne Mercier

It doesn't have to be this way

In recent years I’ve come across three instances of highly successful women creating their own new reality.  Not only were they also successful in achieving their goals but the strategies are realistic, practical and provide us new ways of solving old problems. Each of them challenged my own beliefs about what was probable and what was appropriate. Yet each of these ideas excited me about what was possible.  In fact, these examples were part of a critical turing point in my own thinking -  that taking an active and participatory role in creating your own success, is not boasting, is not only desirable but in fact, mandatory for anyone with a skerrick of ambition.

  • Example 1:  I met a Life Coach and she had just been integral in winning one of her clients the Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award.  You guessed it. This super smart client in the wellness sector wasn’t leaving things up to chance but decided to tackle the rather daunting process with a coach who focused on confidence, accountability and the language of the business world to keep her in the running and make the effort worthwhile.  
  • Example 2:  Some years back a peer was appointed in a marketing capacity for an organisation -  and her main responsibilities for the year were to ………… (wait for it)...... help the female CEO win the Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award.  Once again, this smart and strategic CEO acknowledged that her skill set lay in running a company, not winning awards or objectively talking about her own great work.  Therefore she employed someone to tackle the task on her behalf.  
  • Example 3: I met an author in the final stages of publishing her first book.  Her strategy included forsaking her speaker fee at several rather large conferences in return for the organisation who had booked her to speak, purchasing books for all delegates – as presales.  And the purpose?  To help this smart and strategic new author reach #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list more easily.

For a list of possible Awards for you to nominate for, click here (as at 24 July 2015)

Stopbeingbusy.jpg

Stop being busy and start being strategic

My best ideas never happen when I'm busy at work in front of the computer. In fact they always happens when I'm relaxed and taking a break from work.  If organisations were smart they'd realise this and instead of keeping their staff so busy running in and out of meetings, they'd insist on quiet time, reflective time or reading time. But I guess that the productivity of quiet time is hard to measure and introduces a whole new topic of trust (or lack there of) ...... and that's a subject for another day.  

There's a bunch of science on the immense power of down time, reflective time and mindfulness,  so I can't emphasise how important it is for us to stop valuing being incredibly busy and instead start working smarter -  allowing space and opportunity for creating your own reality.

Here are a few really easy examples you might try in the first instance:

  • Find a mentor or coach to help you work out what's important to you and to keep you accountable and focused on big audacious goals,
  • Pay an expert to write of your CV or LinkedIn profile,
  • Pay a marketing expert to write your media kit, or do your web strategy,
  • Many business leaders use ghost writers when they publish or have staff who handle their personal social media platforms.

Let's see the wood between the trees

So if you’re feeling stuck or frustrated in your role,  maybe you’ve been pidgeon holed in a career path and can’t see the woods for the trees. Possibly you’re even wondering why no one has noticed how well you’ve been working or why no one has pointed out that your inner potential runneth over.  You could wrestle with the issue all on your own, or you might choose to hire a mentor or a career coach to help you get there faster and more easily.

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor ambitious women and men to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.

  • Not already signed up?  Click here.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

5 Common Mistakes that Women Make During Job Interviews

Over the years I've worked in industries heavily dominated by women - education, events management and the association sector. This, along with recent discussions with professional recruiters around the different ways that men and women play the recruitment game has fuelled my interest. Additionally, with so much research available now about the differences between male and female brain biology and socialisation, there are plenty of inferences to be made about why sometimes, even though a woman might have been the best person for the job, she might miss out at interview stage - particularly if the interview panel is predominantly male. Here are some of the errors  I've learned about to help you avoid making the same mistakes.

Mistake.jpg

1. Not getting to the point: I admire Naomi Simson immensely, in particular an article she wrote in 2012 providing career advice for her daughters.  She mentions women "using 10 words when one will do" and that really resonates for me. Sometimes as women we are used to using lots of words when hanging out with our girlfriends and lots of words are valued. We forget that this is not a great strategy in an interview.  Too many words can camouflage clear communication about capabilities, strategy and leadership potential. 

The fix? Given the direct link with great leadership and communication, in preparation rehearse your interview out loud with a trusted friend or mentor. Think of it like preparing to present in front of an audience. Verbally (not mentally) rehearse answers on key themes that you guess might be important based on the job advertisement and your CV. Be clear, remember the rule of three and don't believe for a minute that a pause or silence is negative. 

2. Using "we" instead of "I": Possibly because women have been socialised to be community/family oriented and trained from birth not to big note ourselves, we frequently make the mistake of referring to work that we did as a collaborative effort. This not only diffuses responsibility but also makes you appear less capable. As we move higher up the "food chain" in our careers, we need to learn to be able to clearly articulate our part in any of the work we did including:

  • The team I led,
  • The organisation I headed up,
  • The projects I managed.

The fix? Once again, interview preparation is important and your CV is a great starting place. Rehearse out loud answers to possible questions based on your CV and practice articulating the contribution you personally made. Also clearly define the overall business benefit that came about as a result of the work you did. Plus, if you were the project lead, the manager or head of department, it's perfectly okay to own the body of work as long as you only take credit for the leadership or management strategies rather than the work itself. Great leadership, is exactly that - great leadership. It's actually a given that you didn't necessarily get down in the trenches to personally do everything. 

3. Over interpreting emotional intelligence cues:  Women are said to have higher emotional intelligence (EI) than men. The upside is that 90% of leadership success is attributed to a high EI.  However, the downside is that women can sometimes over interpret these perceived EI cues when feeling pressured - such as in an interview.  I've heard from clients how in interviews perhaps one of the (male) interview panel members sat there unemotionally with arm folded, "allegedly" giving off signals of "not being impressed" - and then of subsequent pressure to perform win this person over.

The fix? Ignore these signals and get on with the job at hand. Don't try to over impress one particular panel member.  Possibly your awareness is heightened due to interview nerves making you hyper sensitive to these "perceived" cues.  They may be real but they may not actually matter. Frequently and ironically, I've had clients describe this situation and "catastrophise" that there is no way they were ever going to get the role, only to be offered the role anyway.

4. Being too intense and serious: I've written about this before but its worth mentioning again that sometimes, as women, we don't understand the "rules of the career advancement game" and the importance of perceived or real confidence. As a result, we run the risk of being so keen to prove our worthiness that we are perceived as too ernest, intense and serious. That's probably okay if your interview panel is the same, but it's highly likely they won't be. And given that people hire people they like - being too intense won't necessarily help.

The fix? Treat the interview with a lighter touch. It doesn't need to be a comedy routine but remember the interview panel are probably trying to work out if they'd like to work in the same office as you. Given that nerves and anxiety are going to magnify your intensity, why not try an Amy Cuddy Power Pose before the interview?  Guaranteed to bring down cortisol and boost other hormones that enhance performance.  

5. Not asking the big questions:  Sometimes women don't ask questions in the interview around salary, bonus structures, salary review periods and career development opportunities - and yet, according to my sources, male candidates are far more likely.  Is it the way women and men are socialised differently with women being more risk averse, less likely to want to rock the boat, or worried about appearing too hard nosed? Unconscious bias is unfortunately still alive and well in instances where men and women judge a woman negatively if she negotiates too hard according to multiple sources including Sheryl Sandberg of "Lean In" fame and Geena Davis for McKinsey (February 2015).

The fix?  There is no easy fix for this one because the sting in the tail can be considerable. However, simply knowing that males are far more likely to ask this information straight up front is actually helpful. When liaising with your recruiter ask their recommendation in advance. They will have already taken a brief from the client so will be far better placed to gauge the clients appetite for straight talking. Most importantly remember the interview is a two way street. This is not the high school play ground when if a boy said he liked you, ergo you must like him back!  This is actually your chance to find out about the organisation and the people you will be working with, equally as it is their opportunity to find out about you. Why not try asking those questions out loud with a trusted friend or mentor? 

Finally, to leave you with two reminders from inspirational women of the importance of you tackling big and important work, and some motivation to help you get there.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”
— Marianne Williamson
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Call or email to find out more about either the "Level Up" mentoring pack. Developing clear communication skills is an integral part of the process.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months